How Do “an Unearthly Child” and “Rose” Introduce the Doctor Who Concept, and Make This Appealing to Their Contemporary Audiences?

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  • Topic: Doctor Who, TARDIS, First Doctor
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  • Published : May 15, 2013
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How do “An Unearthly Child” and “Rose” introduce the Doctor Who concept, and make this appealing to their contemporary audiences?

Doctor Who was designed by Sydney Newman, the director of the BBC in 1963, who was faced with a dilemma. He was to produce a program for the family audience, which could be played between a sports programme, Grandstand, and a teen pop music programme, Jukebox Jury. Newman wanted the programme to entertain and educate people at the same time, in the ways of science and history. Newman, himself an adamant science-fiction fan, came up with the idea of a man, whom the people know little of, who travels around the cosmos in his 1960’s blue police box, his TARDIS. However, he needed some way to get the information from the Doctor to the public. Thus he created the companion, a normal person who accompanies the Doctor on his travels. He would introduce them in the first episodes, such as “Rose” and “An Unearthly Child”. 60’s audiences needed a programme that was not only entertaining, but also educational, since the whole family was to watch it. It also had to be appropriate for children to watch. Many families complained that the show was too frightening and gory. In fact, interest declined greatly if the Daleks did not feature in an episode. However, towards the late 1980s, interest bottomed out completely. The director of the programme at the time decided to take it off air. In 2005, we wanted shows that could make us ask questions, gave us an adrenaline rush or related to real life. Our expectations of television shows, especially in science-fiction and film, have risen with the new technology and special effects that can be used in a programme or film. Therefore, “Rose” uses special effects One of the show’s producer’s commented that she thought that the show may be too gory or frightening for the younger generation. The theme music was also a cause of complaint, as one mother said, “The theme music alone frightens my son”. A report showed that 3% of a surveyed audience found the show unsuitable for “family viewing”, because of the violent and frightening content. The show Doctor Who was a programme designed to educate families about space, science and history. However, nowadays, a typical family would not watch this together unless most or all of the children were teenage or grown up. We expect that a science-fiction programme should be dynamic, violent and exciting, because we want to have something to be scared of. It has, in recent times, leant over to the special effects and entertainment side of programmes in general, we do not expect a science-fiction programme to be educational as well as entertaining, and we feel that we only need documentaries for educating people. Doctor Who has merely become a source of entertainment. Rose, in “Rose”, is a blonde savvy East Londoner, speaks with a typical East-London accent and is a tough, here-and-now girl. Susan, in “An Unearthly Child” is a strange girl, seems to be the age of a secondary school girl, but with a much higher IQ and much more intelligent. We need the companions to ask questions, to help the public learn about the Doctor. There have always been no more than 3 companions at one time who travel with the Doctor. In “An Unearthly Child”, the first aired episode of Doctor Who, the Doctor traps 2 teachers in the TARDIS and takes them to the planet of the Daleks with his “grand-daughter”, Susan. Susan is around 16 years old. She seems to be the perfect student, according to the conversation which science teacher, Ian, who is worried that she may be too intelligent, and who is worried about his own intelligence has with Barbara, Susan’s history teacher, who is worried about her home life. The conversation is mixed with flashbacks of Susan in class, showing a more superior knowledge than her classmates. She has a high breathy voice, as was expected in actresses in the 1960s, and a 60s-style haircut, although it is very severely cut. These...
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